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article imageEngineer fired by Google after he spies on teenagers information

By Gemma Fox     Sep 15, 2010 in Technology
Google announced today that they were forced to fire one of their engineers in July because of repeated violations of user privacy.
Google, in the news yesterday regarding privacy issues in the Czech Republic, fired engineer David Barksdale in July after it came to light that he had been harvesting information about a group of teenagers through their Google accounts.
Barksdale is accused of accessing the private information of a group of teens he met at a Washington state technology group.
The 27-year old ex-Google engineer was fired in July after the family of one of the teens complained to Google. It's thought that Barksdale monitored the accounts of four teens.
In one case Barksdale monitored the Gtalk call logs of one teen to identify their new girlfriend. He's also accused of using the information from one teens Google accounts to taunt him as well as accessing the chat transcripts of the teens and gathering information about them.
Gawker announced the engineers dismissal yesterday although at that point, Google had not made any formal statement. Since then, it has.
Senior vice-president Bill Coughran said; "We dismissed David Barksdale for breaking Google's strict internal privacy policies. We carefully control the number of employees who have access to our systems, and we regularly upgrade our security controls–for example, we are significantly increasing the amount of time we spend auditing our logs to ensure those controls are effective. That said, a limited number of people will always need to access these systems if we are to operate them properly–which is why we take any breach so seriously."
Reuters reports that a source who didn't want to be named said that;
Law enforcement was not called in after the Barksdale breach was uncovered because one of the families involved asked to remain anonymous.
It's not clear if Google's rigorous hiring checks, including credit and criminal record checks, extend to the hiring of engineers.
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